While that is a very serious accusation to make of any nation, using the United States Government’s definition of a “rogue state” and applying it fairly across the board, a case can be made that not only does The State of Israel fit the definition, but also does the United States itself. However, due to the foreign policy of the United States already being covered at length, the main focus of this article will be Israel’s behavior and America’s unwavering support.
According to the 2002 National Security Strategy published by the White House, rogue states:
Before beginning it is also important to note that this is not an attack on the Israeli people, the Jewish people, nor is this an endorsement of any of the enemies of the State of Israel. This is merely taking the U.S.’s definition, and applying it fairly across the board without prejudice.
At the time of this writing, there are over 220 United Nations resolutions concerning the behavior of Israel in international affairs. Much of the criticism stems from the aftermath of the Six Day War, in which Israel seized territories from Egypt, Jordan, and Syria. While there is much controversy over the status and future of many of these territories, it is widely accepted among the international community that the act of transferring one’s population into occupied territory is a violation of the Fourth Geneva Convention. As of 2012, there are more than 600,000 Israeli settlers living in the seized territories.
Israel came under fire again from the international community for its behavior during the 2008-09 Gaza War. The UN Human Rights Council established a team to investigate the alleged violations of international law taking place in the Palestinian territories. The United Nations Fact Finding Mission on the Gaza Conflict, as it was formally called, was headed by Justice Richard Goldstone. Goldstone previously served as the first chief prosecutor of the United Nations International Criminal Tribunal for Rwanda and the former Yugoslavia conflicts.
Known as the Goldstone Report, it criticized Israel for a number of transgressions of international law – including the blockade of Gaza, intentional targeting of civilians, the use of human shields, and the use of white phosphorous in urban areas. White phosphorous, which causes deadly burns, was even used on the UN Relief and Works Agency compound in Gaza City. While the UN Human Rights Council passed a resolution endorsing the Goldstone Report and Amnesty International characterized the conflict as “22 days of death and destruction,” the United States Congress passed a resolution which condemned the report by a vote of 344-36.
While Israel maintains a policy of deliberate ambiguity on whether or not they possess nuclear weapons, it is generally accepted that Israel has between 75 and 400 nuclear weapons. The U.S. Congress also lists Israel as having chemical warfare abilities in addition to an offensive biological warfare program. Former President Jimmy Carter and International Atomic Energy Agency Director General Mohamed ElBaradei stated that Israel has nuclear weapons. A technician who worked at Israel’s Negev Nuclear Research Center was also jailed for 18 years for disclosing that Israel had produced nuclear weapons.
The Irgun, also known as “The National Military Organization in the Land of Israel,” committed acts of terrorism against Arab and British targets dating back to 1937. Civilian markets, trains, and hotels were bombed in addition to the British embassy in Rome and British CID Headquarters in Jerusalem. Described as a terrorist group by the New York Times, Winston Churchill, Albert Einstein and others, The Irgun was absorbed into the Israel Defense Forces (IDF) in 1948 , and a military service ribbon was created in their honor in 1979.
Also absorbed into the IDF was the terrorist group Lehi, also known as the “Stern Group” or “National Military Organization in Israel.” Lehi also attacked civilian targets, including women and children during the Deir Yassin massacre, in addition to United Nations and British government officials. Israel granted amnesty to Lehi members in 1949, created a service ribbon in their honor in 1980, and former Lehi leader Yitzhak Shamir became Prime Minister of Israel in 1983, and again in 1986.
In more recent history, Israel was discovered to be working with terrorist groups operating inside Iran. Israeli Mossad agents, posing as CIA officers with U.S. passports, were actively recruiting Jundallah operatives in 2007 and 2008. According to the U.S. State Department, Jundallah is a terrorist organization that is responsible for the killing of Iranian civilians and government officials. Their tactics include suicide bombings, ambushes, kidnappings and targeted assassinations.
Still ongoing is the support of the People’s Mujahedin of Iran – an “Iranian dissident group that is financed, trained and armed by Israel’s secret service.” The People’s Mujahedin of Iran, which has a history of killing Americans , has been used by the Mossad to kill Iranian nuclear scientists since 2010.
While pinning down a widely accepted definition of “basic human values” can be difficult, one can use the criteria set forth by the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, which was adopted in 1948. Israel violates a number of its definitions of human rights.
The U.S. government has been aware that Israel uses physical coercion to attain confessions since 1978, when a message called “Jerusalem A-19” sent to the State Department from the Consulate General reported that two young American citizens and two young Palestinians were physically beaten by Israeli authorities. The boys were accused of throwing rocks at an Israeli military bus and were found guilty by a military judge. Jerusalem A-19 corroborated two previous messages sent in 1978, Jerusalem 1500 and Jerusalem 3239, which reported that similar tactics were being used on Palestinian prisoners.
By 1987, the Israeli government set up a commission to investigate allegations of torture and perjury by the GSS (General Security Service/Shabak/Shin Bet). Headed by former Supreme Court Justice Moshe Landau, the Landau Commission submitted a two part report of their findings four months later. The Commission defended the use of physical coercion, stating that “the exertion of a moderate degree of physical pressure cannot be avoided.” The report condemned the use of perjury, but at the same time recommended that no criminal action be taken against the GSS officials who committed it.
According to Israeli human rights organization B'Tselem, over 300 Palestinians are currently being held without charge or trial. Israel’s use of administrative detention violates the UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the International Covenant on Civil and Political Rights, and the The Fourth Geneva Convention. Palestinians can find themselves imprisoned for periods of time ranging from several months to several years, including children under the age of eighteen.
According to the Congressional Research Service (CRS), Israel is the single largest cumulative recipient of U.S. foreign aid since World War II and from 1976-2004 Israel was the largest annual recipient of U.S. foreign aid.
Since 1985, the United States has given Israel almost $3 billion in grants every year, and Israel enjoys many unusual benefits like the entirety of American aid being delivered in the first 30 days of the fiscal year whereas most recipients receive aid in installments throughout the year.
In the United States, individuals and businesses can be penalized for boycotting Israel. According to the Bureau of Industry and Security, a child agency of the U.S. Department of Commerce, conduct that may be penalized under the Ribicoff Amendment to the 1976 Tax Reform Act (TRA) and/or prohibited under Export Administration Regulations (EAR) includes, “Agreements to refuse or actual refusal to do business with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies” and “Agreements to furnish or actual furnishing of information about business relationships with or in Israel or with blacklisted companies.”
Penalties can be quite severe, with penalties for each “knowing” violation of the regulations being a fine of up to $50,000 or five times the value of the exports involved (whichever is greater) along with imprisonment for up to five years or longer depending on if there an Executive Order issued pursuant to the International Emergency Economic Powers Act which continues the EAR. During this period criminal penalties for each “willful” violation of the regulations can be a fine of up to $50,000 and up to ten years in prison. Administrative penalties also exist, including denial of export privileges, fines of up to $11,000 per violation and/or exclusion from practice. When the Export Administration Act (EAA) is in lapse, the penalties are governed by the International Emergency Economic Powers Act (IEEPA) which provides for penalties up to $250,000 per violation or twice the value of the transaction involved for administrative violations of these Anti-boycott Regulations while criminal violations can result in up to $1 million in fines and 20 years of imprisonment for each violation.
While the laws prohibit discrimination based on “race, religion, sex or national origin or nationality,” Israel is the only nation which is specifically named in the regulations.